MRS has updated the suite of MRS guidance interpreting the implications for face-to-face data collection following the announcement of the new restrictions for England.   

The new MRS guidance sets out the conditions for limited resumption of face-to-face data collection activities as England cautiously plans to lift restrictions via the 4-step plan issued by the UK Government on 22nd February.

To enable practitioners to prepare for the change, the guidance is being issued prior to its application date, which will be from 29th March 2021Until that date the MRS lockdown guidance, issued on 6th January 2021, will continue to apply.

The fundamental principle underlying this guidance is that  face-to-face data collection will only be undertaken when no other alternative methodology can be used.  This principle should be followed until the working from home and social contact messaging is reviewed as part of step 4 of the UK Government’s roadmap.  Please note, the MRS guidance may change before 29th March 2021 if government advice regarding the proposed 4-step plan is modified.

Some points to note from the new guidance:

  • Research practitioners must only undertake face-to-face data collection which cannot be achieved using other methods.
  • Research practitioners must undertake risk assessments of any proposed face-to-face data collection exercise before beginning the activity.
  • When face-to-face data collection is undertaken it can only be in those locations that remain open as a result of Covid-19 restrictions and in locations allowed within the MRS guidance.
  • In-home face-to-face data collection continues to be restricted to on the doorstep only.
  • Research practitioners have a responsibility to protect vulnerable groups, participants and the reputation of the profession.

The three core documents covering face-to-face data collection, face-to-face mystery shopping and face-to-face data collection in facilities have all been updated with a status update across the four nations and detailed guidance for England, in readiness for 29th March, and are available via the following links:

The MRS Standards Team will continue to review and update the MRS guidance as and when required.

If you have any queries about the MRS Code or any of the MRS’ Covid-19 guidance please contact the MRS Standards Team via the MRS Codeline service (



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